Notes on Joshua 10:11-21
by Jonathan Spurlock
(Holts Summit, MO)
Joshua 10:12 Then spake Joshua to the LORD in the day when the LORD delivered up the Amorites before the children of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel, Sun, stand thou still upon Gibeon; and thou, Moon, in the valley of Ajalon. 13 And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed, until the people had avenged themselves upon their enemies. (Is) not this written in the book of Jasher? So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and hasted not to go down about a whole day. 14 And there was no day like that before it or after it, that the LORD hearkened unto the voice of a man: for the LORD fought for Israel.
Much has been written about this event. Some believe it took place, others deny it. Something to remember is that God is the God of nature and can adjust or adapt the physical creation to accomplish His purposes. Examples: the Red Sea and Jordan River both being parted, with dry ground for the people to cross over; the battle of Jericho where the Israelites did nothing except march and shout; the burning bush (Exodus 3); and, later, the sun’s shadow going backwards “ten degrees (Isaiah 38:8)”. The reader is encouraged to examine and research this incident contained in the Word of God.
15 And Joshua returned, and all Israel with him, unto the camp to Gilgal.
This was the headquarters for Israel at this time. Gilgal was also the place where Israel had settled, basically, after crossing the Jordan River (Josh 4:19) and had built the altar of stones taken from the Jordan’s riverbed (4:20). Israel also kept the Passover here at Gilgal (5:10).
16 But these five kings fled, and hid themselves in a cave at Makkedah.
Now notice the change in attitude of these kings. They had gathered their five cities together in an attempt to destroy Gibeon (see verse 4), but now, after seeing many of their army destroyed, they run for the nearest shelter.
One wonders what they discussed or pondered during this time.
17 And it was told Joshua, saying, The five kings are found hid in a cave at Makkedah.
The soldier or group of soldiers who found these kings deserved credit. They did not attempt to do anything except alert Joshua where the kings were hiding.
18 And Joshua said, Roll great stones upon the mouth of the cave, and set men by it for to keep them:
Joshua made sure the five kings could not escape, neither to their armies, nor to their home territories, nor from the judgment to come. He also set a guard by the mouth of the cave.
Compare this with the Tomb of our Lord at Calvary: there, one great stone was rolled against the mouth of the grave and the authorities, whether Roman or Jewish, set a guard by it too! The difference was that these five kings could not possibly get out, but our Lord was absolutely not going to stay in!
There is another, more somber, illustration: these kings were captured in the acts of war and were therefore held as prisoners of war. They were kept in a holding facility—a cave, in this case—until the campaign was over, judgments rendered, and sentences carried out. Likewise, those who die without salvation will go to Hades (Luke 16:23) until the final judgment at the Great White Throne. All who face that judgment face eternity in the Lake of Fire forever (Rev 20:15).
No one who ever enters Hell can escape it. Why not accept God’s gift of salvation--today?
19 And stay ye not, (but) pursue after your enemies, and smite the hindmost of them; suffer them not to enter into their cities: for the LORD your God hath delivered them into your hand.
This was the strategy of the five enemies, to regroup in their own lands and cities and apparently attack Gibeon again. The Philistines would later repeat this strategy, attacking Israel and, even if defeated, would attack again later. The books of Samuel give the repeated accounts of battle between Israel and the Philistines. Here, as before, God had promised victory to Israel against these five enemies.
20 And it came to pass, when Joshua and the children of Israel had made an end of slaying them with a very great slaughter, till they were consumed, that the rest (which) remained of them entered into fenced cities.
There must have been a few survivors, according to this verse, who were able to enter into “fenced” or fortified cities. Had they surrendered to Israel, how different their lives might have been!
21 And all the people returned to the camp to Joshua at Makkedah in peace: none moved his tongue against any of the children of Israel.
Verse 15 states that the camp—the main camp, most likely—was at Gilgal. According to this verse, Joshua may have set up a temporary camp, near the site of the battle, until the operation was complete.